SOME MAY SAY THAT there’s not a lot going on in February along the middle portion of the Texas coastline. The duck decoys are usually stored away by now, and the deer rifles are generally all cleaned and polished and put away until the start of next deer season.
However, this month marks what can often be one of the most exciting times of the year if you happen to be a longtime saltwater “plugger.” Some of the absolute largest speckled trout that have ever been caught with a rod and reel have been lured to a slow-moving top water plug or subsurface plastic bait.
That simple little fact may not seem of too much importance to some. However, it’s a vision that drives a lot of artificial bait enthusiasts to endure some of the year’s most miserable weather conditions as they pursue their chance at landing the trout of a lifetime.
A considerable amount of strong north wind will present itself in February, which means that much of the open water in our bays will turn extremely rough on occasion. The bays might simply become unsafe and impassible at times.
That won’t worry those who chase these behemoth trout this month. They will be pinpointing their search in many of the marshy shallows located just adjacent to deep water areas.
Large mud flats, grassy coves, or tapering drains and sloughs emptying out of the marsh and into the bay are, typically, protected from the driving north wind. This pursuit often becomes a game of patience of which there is only one winner, either the fish, or the angler.
In targeting these trophy trout, anglers must first locate an active food source that the trout will be feeding on. Big trout eat other fish, so naturally they’re going to be found wherever baitfish can be found.
Remember, it’s wintertime, and the water is extremely cold. So, along our region of the Texas coast this means the only food source available for these big trout right now is going to be mullet. The mullet, too, must survive, so it’s only natural for them to seek muddy shallows because those are the places that will warm more quickly from the chilling overnight weather. If you find the mullet in February, chances are much greater that you’ll find trophy trout.
Experienced coastal anglers also know that many days in February can be more suitable for duck hunting than fishing, often presenting the angler with heavy overcast skies that minimize daylight conditions. However, if it’s a true trophy you’re looking to catch, these somewhat dismal conditions can be just what the doctor ordered.
Colossal trout tend to feed much more actively during periods of low-light. Therefore, they can be much easier to catch during these times, especially in places where clear water is found.
As you take the hunt to these big trout, you’ll need to approach the area you’ll be fishing in a stealthy manner. If possible, use the wind to set up the position of your boat where you want it.
If the wind isn’t going to be of any help to you, use your trolling motor if you have one. Never idle in to your anticipated fishing spot using your big engine, as you’ll typically be in about three to four feet of water.
The wake your boat is going to throw across the surface of the flat when you cut the engine is going to drive away any chance you might have had at any large trout.
Get out of the boat, and throw large baits. Wading is the preferred style of fishing to hunt for trophy trout in our neck of the woods. It not only provides for a quiet approach, but it also allows you to use your senses by feeling different things that might be of use to you.
This might be changes in water temperature, alterations in the bay floor, and even being able to feel the strength of the water movement. Big baits match what these big trout are eating this month. When you get into the water make sure you have some of the larger top water baits like the Super Spook, She Dog, or Skitter Walk.
Also, don’t forget your arsenal of the ever-popular baits such as the floating Corky and Corky Devil, the MirrOdine and the Soft-Dine. Try throwing bright colors under clear sky and clean water conditions. Toss all your darker colors in muddy water conditions or under cloudy skies.
Once again, this is a game of patience. So, slow down and have a little patience. If you locate mullet in clear shallow water, approach the area in a stealthy manner, throw big baits. Remember to slow everything down, and you’ll have a definite advantage over the next guy in your quest for February’s trophy trout.
Good luck to you all, and be safe out there!
Email Chris Martin at [email protected]
or visit bayflatslodge.com